Classifying by Race

Classifying by Race

Edited by Paul E. Peterson
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Classifying by Race
    Book Description:

    The contemporary debate over racial classification has been dominated by fringe voices in American society. Cries from the right say history should be abrogated and public policy made color-blind, while zealots of the left insist that all customs, language, institutions, and practices are racially tinged and that only aggressive, color-conscious programs can reverse the course of American history. The essays in this volume, however, recognize that racial classification is an issue that cuts too deep and poses too many constitutional questions to be resolved by slogans of either the right or the left.

    The contributors to this volume are James Alt, Kenneth Benoit, Henry Brady, John Bruce, Rodolfo O. de la Garza, Andrew Gelman, Lani Guinier, Fredrick C. Harris, Gary King, Robert C. Lieberman, David Ian Lublin, David Metz, Paul E. Peterson, Kay Lehman Schlozman, Kenneth Shepsle, Theda Skocpol, Katherine Tate, Richard Valelly, Sidney Verba, and Margaret Weir.

    Originally published in 1995.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6410-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. 1 A Politically Correct Solution to Racial Classification
    (pp. 3-18)

    Whether or not to classify by race is a political, not a moral or ethical, question. Put more exactly, the politically correct answer in a pluralist democracy is also likely to be ethically correct. Those who first attempt to work out a moral position and then devise ways of imposing their answers on their fellow citizens are unlikely to have discerned the correct moral position in the first place. Paradoxically, those who first attempt to find a politically satisfactory resolution to racial classification and only then place it within a moral or legal framework are the more likely to have...

    • 2 The Representation of Minority Interests
      (pp. 21-49)

      Majority black electoral districts are the remedy of choice in most voting rights cases brought by black plaintiffs. This preference is consistent with the particular bias toward winner-take-all single-member electoral districts common in the United States. This article focuses on the limits of districting as a method for representing minority interests.

      Elections based on multimember districts and proportional or semiproportional representation may work better than districting as a remedy for vote dilution.¹ These alternatives would assure fair minority representation and would better reflect all voters’ true preferences. Semiproportional, multimember electoral systems do not rely on territorial or residential location as...

    • 3 Electoral Systems and Minority Representation
      (pp. 50-84)

      Minority political enfranchisement in America is a subject of great complexity, forcing students of democratic practice to wrap their minds around the subtle relationships between broad philosophical purpose, on the one hand, and the practical details of democratic machinery, on the other. At thephilosophical levelthere are controversies concerning which public purposes among the many possible involving minority empowerment should be served—participation, promotion of indigenous leaders, representation, influence, satisfaction with outcomes. At thepractical levelthere are mysteries surrounding the operating characteristics of specific democratic design features—Does plurality voting deny representation to supporters of losing candidates? Will...

    • 4 Racial Fairness in Legislative Redistricting
      (pp. 85-110)

      In this chapter, we study standards of racial fairness in legislative redistricting—a field that has been the subject of considerable legislation, jurisprudence, and advocacy, but very little serious academic scholarship. We attempt to elucidate how basic concepts about “color-blind” societies, and similar normative preferences, can generate specific practical standards for racial fairness in representation and redistricting. We also provide the normative and theoretical foundations on which concepts such asproportional representationrest, in order to give existing preferences of many in the literature a firmer analytical foundation.

      Our work also addresses a troubling discrepancy between partisan and racial standards...

    • 5 Race, Representation, and Redistricting
      (pp. 111-126)

      Since the redistricting round following the 1990 reapportionment, the policy of advancing African American and Latino representation through the creation of new majority-minority districts has come under increasingly intense attack from both the right and the left. Advocates of racial redistricting claim that few African Americans or Latinos would win election to the House of Representatives without the creation of majority-minority districts. They further view the election of black and Latino representatives from majority-minority districts as essential to the advancement of authentic black and Latino viewpoints during congressional deliberations.¹

      In contrast, conservative opponents lambaste racial redistricting as going beyond the...

    • 6 African Americans in U.S. Social Policy
      (pp. 129-155)

      Listening recently to a talk by two of my colleagues, I heard what might be called standard wisdom about the impact of relations between white and black Americans on the development of national social policies in the United States. America developed a welfare state very belatedly and incompletely, my colleagues argued, in large part because workers have always been divided by ethnicity and—especially—by race. Throughout U.S. history, it was further suggested, policies to help the poor have been particularly stigmatized, because “the poor” have been seen as likely to be people of color.

      I found myself thinking: No,...

    • 7 Race and the Organization of Welfare Policy
      (pp. 156-187)

      Most accounts of racial classification in American politics ascribe the problems of racial division and stratification either to individual and collective attitudes or to underlying social and economic factors. The politics of race, in these accounts, appears as a horrible deviation from America’s true liberal and pluralist path. But the persistence of racial classification as a force in American political life suggests that rather than a grim mistake, racial politics is built into the structure of American politics more profoundly than we would like to admit. In his eloquent essay “Many Thousands Gone,” James Baldwin maintains that American identity is...

    • 8 National Parties and Racial Disenfranchisement
      (pp. 188-216)

      About a century ago, conservative southern white politicians began to institute a system of electoral rules—literacy and good understanding tests, the poll tax and the like—intended to destroy their political opposition. When they finished around 1910, they had in effect killed off African American voting in this country, since the great majority of African Americans lived in the South. Lacking robust political representation, black Americans became vulnerable not just to Jim Crow but also to a gradual strengthening of de facto color lines in the nation as a whole. Color lines grew brighter in national and public settings...

    • 9 The Politics of Racial Isolation in Europe and America
      (pp. 217-242)

      The once-homogenous nations of Europe are now struggling with the social tensions of racial diversity. Clusters of disadvantaged minorities have emerged on the metropolitan landscape of many European nations as economic growth has slowed and unemployment has risen. In the face of racial conflict and ethnic disadvantage, the press and some politicians have warned that European nations are developing American-style ghettos, populated by ethnic minorities who are excluded from the mainstream of social and economic life.¹ Such concentrations raise thorny questions for liberal democracies because they suggest that racial difference creates disadvantages that pervade all spheres of economic and social...

    • 10 Racial Group Competition in Urban Elections
      (pp. 245-261)

      Americans today more commonly vote in presidential or state elections than in local elections. During the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, however, electorally based political activism was more vigorously pursued at the local level. Not only were fewer state and national officials popularly elected as they are today, but American political parties during this period were more involved in mass participation at the local level of politics than nationally. Urban politics during this era was especially vigorous and rich. The entry and early suffrage of nearly twenty-three million immigrants to America at the turn of the century led to the emergence...

    • 11 The Color of Urban Campaigns
      (pp. 262-277)

      Over time, as more black politicians come face-to-face with whites in mayoral elections, it is inevitable that race will have a powerful influence on city politics. Race was especially salient in the first black-white mayoral confrontations that took place during the late 1960s and early 1970s. According to Thomas Pettigrew, “the fact that a leading candidate for mayor is a Negro becomes a dominant feature for both white and black voters, overwhelming in importance political party identification in Cleveland and Gary and scandals in incumbent administrations in Los Angeles and Newark.”¹ Although crossover voting by voters of both races occurs...

    • 12 Religious Institutions and African American Political Mobilization
      (pp. 278-310)

      Religious institutions have provided critical organizational resources for protest mobilization both during the postwar Civil Rights movement and an earlier era. The black church has often served as the “organizational hub of black life,” providing the structure and resources that fostered collective protest against a system of white domination in the South and elsewhere.¹ Those resources promoted mobilization through clerical leadership and through formal and informal networks of communication.

      This chapter surveys the early history of black religious institutions in electoral politics, and argues that during Reconstruction, as now, black churches served as a source of information, organizational skills, and...

    • 13 Race and Voter Registration in the South
      (pp. 313-332)
      JAMES E. ALT

      Describing Sunflower County, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta and the birthplace, in 1954, of White Citizens’ Councils, Constance Curry writes

      In the 1950s, Sunflower black people comprised almost 75 per cent of the total population of 56,000, but only 0.3 percent were registered to vote. The number of black registered voters has increased dramatically over the years, but old arrangements and the power of intimidation and violence linger. Even with a majority black population in... the county, registered black voters make up only 50 percent of the electorate.

      “And just being registered doesn’t make the difference,” says [longtime...

    • 14 The Effects of Ethnicity on Political Culture
      (pp. 333-353)

      This paper compares Puerto Rican and Anglo (non-Hispanic whites) support for economic individualism and democratic norms, two values that analysts agree are central to American political culture.¹ Its objective is to determine if there are differences between the two groups regarding these values, and to measure the extent to which ethnic factors explain whatever differences exist.

      We focus on Puerto Ricans for two reasons. First, we agree with the judgment that the several Latino national origin groups are distinct populations and should be analyzed as such.² Thus, we focus on Puerto Ricans rather than on Hispanics in general. More significant,...

    • 15 Race, Ethnicity, and Political Participation
      (pp. 354-378)

      Democracy rests on the fundamental ideal of the equal consideration of the needs and preferences of each citizen. Political participation is the mechanism by which those needs and preferences are communicated to political decision makers and by which pressure is brought to bear on them to respond. Thus, equality in political participation—embodied in the most obvious principle of equal consideration of citizen preferences: one person, one vote—would seem to be a necessary condition for democracy.

      This paper compares the political participation of three groups defined by their race or ethnicity—African Americans, Latinos, and whites¹—in order to...

  11. References
    (pp. 379-406)
  12. Contributors
    (pp. 407-408)
  13. Index
    (pp. 409-422)